Vivian James by Yahlantykan on DeviantArt
Surprisingly, I’ve gone this long without issuing an opinion of Gamergate and the controversy surrounding it. Depending on who you ask, it’s either a misogynistic movement of lonely men who don’t want women playing video games, or it’s a movement standing against corruption in game journalism and fighting back against the self-appointed social justice warriors (SJWs) that are mischaracterizing their movement.
If you believe the former, you believe the media’s official narrative about Gamergaters. If you believe the latter, you believe what Gamergaters are saying about themselves.
However one views the Gamergate movement, there is no denying how it got started: A woman by the name of Zoe Quinn released a so-so text-based game about depression, and it was given a glowing review on a gaming website. Later, Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend revealed that she was cheating on him, and that the game received undue attention because she was in an affair with the game journalist that reviewed it. As one might expect, people were outraged, and the Gamergate movement was born.
Incidentally, here is a link to a WikiHow article on how to make your own text-based adventure game.
Zoe Quinn became a target of harassment and ridicule, which is to be expected, considering what she did. But rather than accept that what was happening to her was a consequence of her own poor decision-making, she instead played the victim, claiming to be attacked by misogynists. She made her appeal to both cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian and the press, and they both ate it up.
I’m going to say straight-up that I don’t believe that Gamergate is a movement of misogynists. What I’ve seen from gamers in my long history of seeing them is just the opposite; they like seeing women in video games, and they favor the image of the female protagonist in games that is strong, independent, resourceful, and intelligent (does the name Samus Aran ring a bell?). But that doesn’t mean that Gamergaters aren’t going to be mischaracterized.
Gamergaters have challenged a corrupt press, and the results have been predictable. The press has long been in a position in which they have the trust of people and control of information, enabling them to sway public opinion in favor of positions and worldviews that are in line with those of journalism at large. It’s something that conservatism has long complained of as the liberal-controlled media has long perpetuated stereotypes of those of those of conservative persuasion.
A case in point is the recent exposure of Planned Parenthood’s operation of selling baby parts in violation of federal law. In some cases, the subjects of harvesting were infants that were extracted alive. One would imagine that, if even a little bit of video evidence of this got out, there would be an outrage, and the people behind the crime would all be held accountable. However, there has been volumes of undercover video released, and it seems like the general population is largely unaware of what happened. This is because there has been a media blackout of the video releases, except for a short time when Planned Parenthood peddled its official narrative that the videos were doctored.
Now, gamers are starting to see what it’s like to be libeled by a huge, rich, privileged media machine. To add to their problem, coming against them is another, far less sophisticated group that also cares little about facts: radical feminism.
After they became involved, a surprising group came along to oppose them: liberals themselves. After so long of being the beneficiaries of a media that presented their narratives, they started to speak up against what they see as wrong with radical feminism’s tactics, possibly because it was their entertainment that was being challenged.
As tempting as it may be for conservatives to view the battle between feminists and moderate liberals as a liberal problem, it’s an opportunity that conservatives seem to be largely passing up to point out that they too have been victims of similar targeting and stereotyping, and now that liberals are on the receiving end of it at the hands of one of their own fringe groups, perhaps they’ll be in a better position to understand that there’s something wrong with it.
Similarly, non-gamers seem to view Gamergate as a gamer problem. However, it’s another symptom of the corruption of the press that has long been preying on the masses. It’s interesting that it has been gamers that have taken a position in the battle against corruption in the media, and more surprising still is their passion to continue, long after many people would have just given up.
But that’s not so surprising considering that many of them have been influenced by an art form that allows them to vicariously experience the battles of heroes, and encourages them to keep trying until they win.